Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Good Olde Days

Friday, November 17th, 2006

The Hand Drafting days are no more. Get over it!

I deal with a rather large variety of engineers, architects, architecture professors and consultants. The one topics that comes up several times a week is the constant state of technological change in our profession and the inevitable glassy eye nostalgic claim of how wonderful it was in the “Good Olde Days”. Now there is something to be said for “getting one’s hands dirty”, it allowed more time to contemplate. On the other hand it was hard on the back, eyes and fingers to draw up a 100 sheet set of drawings on 36″x48″ vellum or mylar. Just the act of filling out the title block would consume 2 – 3 days work for one employee. It could also be tedious, redrawing the same details at various scales as an example. What I hated the most was lettering by hand. The worst was having to fill a 36×48 sheet with general notes and specifications. My hand usually cramped up after an hour.

Do I miss the “Good Olde Days”? Quite simply no. I can now do so much more with todays technology. Hand drawing now seems primitive. Now I hand drew for 10 years and have used a computer for about 12 years so I can relate to both.

The question that is being posed is this: Has the quality of architecture design been degraded by the technology? I think to a degree technology has contributed to a decline in quality of architectural projects for architects who fight the change. By not embracing the technology they expend a large amount of energy struggling and working around the technology, that always ends in frustration. The technology that should free the architect of the constraints of hand drawing instead enslaves and frustrates the design process. For those that have embraced the change all the promises made by the technology pundits have been realized and then some. Most of what was predicted has come to pass and some things that weren’t even considered are now common place, such as desktop realtime rendering, light studies and animation. In the last year even sketching and quick design software for preliminary vignettes has advanced to the point of making pencil and paper another choice and not a requirement. In my opinion we are experiencing a return to an architect that can now have control of almost all aspects of design and construction on the desktop, a return to the “master” architect in control of all aspects of the design process….. that is for those willing to continually learn and try new technology and embrace and welcome never ending change. (more…)

Numbers, counting and sensationalism in the Media

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

The last few days I have read, watched or listened to a lot of news stories whos only apparent raison d’ĂȘtre are numbers or stats. This morning as I completed the “repeat” portion of lather, rinse and repeat in the shower, the reporter on the radio informed me in breathless tones that at that exact moment [7:46AM] the US population had crossed the 300 million person mark. I was told to remember what I was doing for posterity. How absurd! The truth is the “event” may have happened last week or will in actuality happen next month. I may have happened at [7:56AM] while I was looking for a pair of socks. The whole “event” did not merit such special coverage. Next came speculation as to whether the 300 million person was a birth or the current political whipping boy an immigrant. Amazing.

Another story involved counts, body counts to be exact.The news story concerned the number of US Military casualties for the month of September. The reporter claimed there were close to 60 casualties. I always find a reporter chortling about “temperatures tomorrow being near 100 degrees” or after a disaster estimates that “the Katrina death toll could reach 10,000″ very disturbing. Does the news agency not know what the casualty number was last month? Was it 54 or 58 or 50? All three are close to 60. Is it that difficult to just say last month there were 56 casualties without sensationalizing it? Is the temperature tomorrow really going to near 100? Will it be 99.8 and thus the merit in the use of near? Or will it be 97 or 98? Can a human tell the difference between 97 and 99 degrees anyhow? A 100 degree day I guess makes for bigger news than 98. How about disaster death tolls, can the death toll really reach 10,000? What was the final count? I remember reporter practically salivating as they used words like massive to describe the possible death toll. I guess that if we were to discover tomorrow that a rogue astroid was heading toward earth the media headline would probably read “Massive Astroid headed toward Earth: Death Toll could reach 6.7 Billion.” I wonder where they will put the camera?

implementing enterprise synergies

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

One of the reasons for this blog, besides a outlet for an occasional rant, is to “encourage” myself to write. I need to improve my writing, I hope writing this blog will help. I am a visual person and spend 80% of my professional time drawing. Any writing I currently produce is in the form of standardized construction document newspeak, not very exciting or rewarding. Some of what I write is technical while other is legal in nature. Most of the jargon becomes unintelligible to people outside of the “club”.

I see a lot of resumes with lots of phrases like the title of this post. I don’t know what any of these people do! While I was researching the common business use of verbose and obfuscating jargon I came across the writings of Bertand Russell. A paper he wrote called “How I Write” that has an interesting passage that gets to the heart of what I am trying to say.

“Human beings are completely exempt from undesirable behaviour-patterns only when certain prerequisites, not satisfied except in a small percentage of actual cases, have, through some fortuitous concourse of favourable circumstances, whether congenital or environmental, chanced to combine in producing an individual in whom many factors deviate from the norm in a socially advantageous manner”. Let us see if we can translate this sentence into English. I suggest the following: “All men are scoundrels, or at any rate almost all. The men who are not must have had unusual luck, both in their birth and in their upbringing.” This is shorter and more intelligible, and says just the same thing.

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Here’s to say it like it is and simplifing communication.

The Media and Priorities

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006


I guess this why we are so uninformed about ANY current world event. Yet the Media recently had a bidding war to photograph some celebrity’s baby. Events in Afghanistan, as we well know, do and can affect us, sometimes profoundly. I guess it’s about what sells papers or maybe we are entering a new era where we “embrace” and wallow in our own ignorance. Anyone have photos of Suri Cruise?

Banned Books Week 2006

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Read Banned Books: They're Your Ticket to Freedom
The new school year has begun and so have the stories on book banning. A teacher usually assigns a book and some “concerned” parent takes exception to the choice, usually on “moral” grounds. Within a week the school board or library has banned it and both side are on the local news protesting.

The most irritating attacks are those on books and “controversial” movies that challenge us intellectually. How many people out there have read Origin of Species and the Bible? The Canterbury Tales written in 1380 had been banned…… I read it in 6th grade. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were both banned, most of Shakespeare has at one time been banned……..the list is long. In almost all cases the people screaming for a ban have never read the book or seen the movie. How is it possible to make a decision to ban something based only on a passage or two taken out of context? How about banning it based on just the general plot or premise?

A lot of people believe there is only black and white, good and evil, up and down…etc. In other words they ONLY see two ways of looking at issues and the world in general. The way I see it the Universe exists only in shades of gray. Any argument can be and should be viewed from either extreme view or anthing in between and be valid. We live in a society where everyone has an opinion based on their first impressions, malformed beliefs and unstudied bias. A large portion of what society believes is greatly influenced by pop cultures psudo-religions, psudo-science the “news” and our uninformed policy makers and self proclaimed experts.

What follows is a thought experiment / example of how to take a movie or book and spin the premise into a potential banning candidate. I will take something considered a classic and spin it into something twisted.

Movie Premise:
A young girl is transported against her will to a surreal landscape where she kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three very weird complete strangers to kill again. (Definition: weird- one stranger is not wearing any clothes another is carrying a weapon and the third is mentally challenged.)

Based on only this information would you let your children see this movie? Can this movie possibly be any good ? Is there any possible way to put a spin on this “movie” and get responsible adults to take their 7, 8 & 9 year olds to see this now perceived “dreck”? Armed with this description could I get this movie banned from my kids school and library? What if I told you this movie was originally a book and has been banned by outraged fundamentalists determined to purge “witchcraft” from public schools and libraries.

The movie has been around for over 65 years and has made a lot of people a lot of money. The book has been made into a movie many times. The most popular version has been seen by millions of children.

The movie? The Wizard of Oz.

Zone Zero – Pedro Meyer

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Pedro Meyer is the publisher of a site called Zone Zero. He was born in Spain and emigrated to Mexico where he is now a citizen. His site Zone Zero is dedicated to exploring and investigating the transition from anolog to digital imaging photography. What I like most about Pedro Meyer’s site is his writing. His Editorials are all very thought provoking and insightful. He is definitely a proponent for digital. Again check out his enjoyable and educational writings.